Being able to envision what it would be like to be free from debt can help motivate you to take the steps necessary to make it a reality.
For many, debt is a way of life. Or rather, it has been a part of their life for so long that it’s hard to remember a time when it wasn’t.
In a weird kind of financial Stockholm Syndrome, some people have come to believe that having debt is actually a good thing. Some of this is the work of the credit score companies, who have sufficiently scared us into believing that our credit scores are the most important financial asset we own, and that we should work to improve it even at the expense of our own financial security.
But for most, debt is just something that you acquired (for any number of reasons) over a number of years, and that is difficult if not impossible to remove from your life.
Before you even go through the process of reducing and eliminating your debt, it is crucial to be able to actually envision this outcome. Can you even imagine life without debt?
Because if not, the process won’t be tied to your emotions, and may seem academic and not real. And that’s not a recipe for success.
So let’s imagine, shall we?
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Life without credit card debt
(Though I should probably specify that this also means not having your credit card number stored on Amazon or anywhere else, you sneaky devil you.)
If you didn’t have credit card debt, that would mean that you wouldn’t need to pay your credit card bill each month. Or, rather, bills, because you probably have more than one.
How many fewer bills to pay is that? Think about how much less you need to deal with. (And for those who still get paper statements, you’re going to get a lot less mail!)
Life without credit card debt is simpler. So much simpler. Fewer bills, fewer transactions, just less to think about.
And in return, what do you get more of? Money! Because all of those payments that are now going to your credit cards get freed up when you no longer have bills to pay. How many hundreds of dollars are we talking about, that are now free to be spent on anything else?
What would you do with a few hundred dollars a month that suddenly fell in your lap? Isn’t that fun to think about?
Life without a car loan
Car loans are the worst. Unlike credit cards, it’s a secured loan, which means that if you don’t pay up, they can take your car away. Not good.
Plus, in almost all cases, you’re underwater on your car from the beginning. Cars plummet in value very quickly, and the newer the car, the faster the plummet.
None of this should feel good.
But you know what feels good? The day you pay the very last payment on your car. Because you know what happens then? You have a car that’s yours.
It wasn’t truly yours until that moment. But now, so long as you continue to pay for insurance and maintenance, you can ride that thing into the ground.
Every month you don’t have a payment on a loan is a month that you are coming out ahead. Don’t get rid of your car once it’s paid off!
And then, of course, it’s the money too. Without the car loan, you now have a few hundred dollars to spend, right away. What will you do with that money? I bet you could think of a few things.
Life without student loans
After a decade or two, you might be tempted to ignore your student loans. Instead, in your mind, they are replaced by this nagging sense of something you need to do but can’t, and the reality of a few hundred dollars coming out of your bank account each month, in perpetuity.
Student loans generally have much lower interest rates than credit cards, which can make them less of an acute problem. But they are almost always larger in amount than credit card balances. This creates the worst kind of problem: a large, important, but not urgent problem.
This is how people retire with student loan debt.
Which breaks my heart. Because, aside from all that money spent on interest, I’m just thinking about how long the loans have been hanging over your head, and how much stress and nervous energy you’ve expended over the course of years.
Student loans can be paid off. It is possible. And for this imagining, forget about the money. Think how good it would feel to no longer have those student loans hanging over your head.
I can tell you personally that it feels amazing.
Life without a mortgage
A home mortgage has always felt like the debt boss battle. As in, once you defeat this one, then you’ve really made it.
A mortgage is often, but not always, the last major debt that people have to deal with in their lives. It’s large, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and can take more than a decade to pay off. You will be a different person when you finish than when you started.
But just like the car, your home is going to feel different when it’s paid off. It’s yours. It’s yours in a way it never was before. Sure, you always lived in it, but there was this bank in the way the whole time
But without a mortgage, the threat of foreclosure vanishes. This thing is yours now. Breathe a sigh of relief.
And given how much a monthly mortgage payment is, that’s when the real massive wealth-building begins.
How much is your mortgage payment? $1,500? $3,000? $6,000? $10,000? When your home is paid off, that money is now yours. Each. And. Every. Month.
You’re going to tell me that you can’t become wealthy with that much money to put away each month? Come on.
Even if you have a slow start to your wealth building, it’s not too late.
I want you to spend some time thinking about what it would feel like to not have the debt that you possess.
And try to avoid your knee-jerk reaction of “that will never be me”. No, just think about it. Imagine how it would feel. Really embody it. Put yourself in those debt-free shoes.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
But seriously, the more time you spend holding off those self-negating thoughts and really imagine the life that you’d have without debt, the more you might just find yourself able to say, “okay, so how do I get there?”
And now we’re talking.
(No, really, let’s talk.)